Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gingered Turkey and Spinach Salad

It's always been a mystery to me why more Americans don't eat turkey year-round.  It's a very lean protein, delicious and cheap at the store.  What more could you want?  I think one reason why people don't eat it more is because the traditional Thanksgiving whole roasted turkey thing can be so daunting.  Not to mention that if you have a small household you'll be eating turkey forever. Luckily, you can find smaller turkey cuts readily available in the stores these days.  This recipe uses a split boneless skinless turkey breast that makes just four servings.  When I bought it at the store it cost slightly more than $5.00 as a bone-in breast that I skinned and boned myself.  Not bad.

The following recipe has a definite Asian flavor but not at all like a teriyaki.  The turkey tastes primarily of ginger with light garlic and cinnamon notes.  It's much more complex than your regular heavy soy-sauce taste.  Although the salad is light and healthy it's surprisingly filling due to the crunch of the noodle/nut/seed combination.  Altogether it's a wonderful light dinner that I really encourage you to try.  (The turkey also makes an amazing sandwich on whole wheat with sliced cucumbers, lettuce and mayo.)

Note that this recipe requires some advance planning as the turkey needs to be marinated and roasted in advance.  Sometimes this can be an advantage -  this past weekend is a great example.  I knew we would be visiting an Alpaca farm on Sunday afternoon due to The Lawyer's highly developed sense of whimsy.  I marinated the turkey on Saturday and roasted it Sunday morning, then threw it in the refrigerator before heading off to Alpaca Land.  Note that the afore-mentioned sense of whimsy combined with a passion for photography can lead to some pretty interesting pictures.  The Lawyer recently created a photographic series of Domestic Animal Noses and Beaks.  What can I say?  You can't make this stuff up.

alpaca photos courtesy of The Lawyer

When we returned home from the Alpaca adventure, all we had left to do was mix a quick salad dressing, slice the turkey, toast some crunchies and toss the whole thing - 20 minutes tops.  Obviously this would be a great recipe for any busy night (including work nights) if you marinate and roast the turkey in advance.  Even if you aren't heading to an Alpaca farm.

** click here for a printable recipe version **

Gingered Turkey and Spinach Salad
Serves 4

Note:  plan ahead as the turkey needs to be marinated and roasted in advance.

For turkey
1 (2 lb.) turkey breast, skinned and boned (weight is before skinning and boning)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¾ tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root
¼ cup unsalted chicken stock
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For salad
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 3-oz bag Asian noodle soup mix (such as Top Ramen), noodles coarsely crushed
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 6-oz bag of baby spinach
6 green onions, white and green tops thinly sliced

To Make Marinade:
Combine garlic, cinnamon, ginger root, stock, sesame oil and soy sauce in a gallon zip top bag.

To Prepare the Turkey
Put the turkey in the bag and turn several times to make sure it is evenly coated.  Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the turkey from the marinade and scrape off any excess garlic and ginger.  Reserve the marinade and allow the turkey to come to room temperature while the oven preheats.  Heat the vegetable oil in an oven proof skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the turkey until golden brown on the first side, then turn and continue cooking for one minute.  Put the turkey in the oven for 45 minutes.  While it bakes, bring the reserved marinade to a boil and remove from heat.  After 20 minutes, remove the turkey from the oven and baste with the reserved marinade, then return to the oven for the final 25 minutes.  The thickest part of the breast should read 165d on a meat thermometer when it comes out of the oven.  Let rest until cool, then place in a fresh zip top bag with any accumulated juices in the refrigerator for several hours.

To Make the Salad:
Whisk 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce together in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the noodles (reserve seasoning packet for another use), nuts and sesame seeds and stir until toasted and golden, about 5 minutes.  Pour contents of skillet into a large bowl and cool 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice the turkey into thin slices.  Add the spinach and onions to the large bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat.  Divide between plates and place turkey slices on top.  Drizzle turkey with any leftover dressing.

after browning, before roasting

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